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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All Rise:The Honorable Samson Presiding

As we bring our journey through the "Judges" of Israel to a close we come to undoubtedly the most infamous one of them all Samson.  You know the story of Samson who was to be consecrated as a Nazarite from birth meaning he wouldn't drink wine or consume anything from the vine.  Lord knows I love me some grapes!  He also wouldn't cut his hair.  As the narrative progresses he falls in love with a woman he is not supposed to get entangled with.  Samson believed that his hair was the source of his strength as Samson possessed superhuman strength.  Samson  killed a lion bear-handed, he killed 30 Philistines at Ashkelon and thousand more with a jawbone of an ass just to name a few of his amazing deeds due to his supernatural strength.  The woman eventually seduces Samson and cuts his hair and in turn Samson loses his superhuman strength.  He was blinded and put in jail as a result but when he cried out to the Lord Yahweh restored his strength to him.  Samson story has a tragic ending has he pulled down the Temple of Dagon killing himself and about 3,000 Philistines.

Samson life teaches us an important lesson and that is this God is the source of our strength.  Like the late great James Cleveland wrote in his classic "God is".   However like Samson we have the tendency to try to find  strength in other places i.e. church, family etc.  Like Samson we will find ourselves in situations where we will have to call out or cry out for HIS strength!  God is the source and the strength of my life is what the songwriter said and would have to agree.

So remember God is!  I know its simply but it's true God is!

Scripture Reference: Judges 13

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Abdon Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Abdon. Abdon was the son of Hillel the Pirathonite and he had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys.  Abdon judged Israel eight years.  Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mountains of the Amalekites.  This is all the bible says about Abdon.  Abdon name means to work, to serve, or servant.

There is something we can learn from Abdon name and life.  Abdon was a wealthy man but apparently that didn't deter him from having a servant's heart.  In a world full of I got mine now you get yours type of thinking we see a man who names means to serve.  God isn't against wealth but God is against wealth at the expense of relationship with Him.  God is more concern with how you use your resources than the amount of resources you have. 

Let us heed the biblical warning not to gain the whole world and lose our soul!  Abdon was a man of wealth but his name indicates that he was always willing to serve.  You are never too BIG to serve and you never reach a status where you are not called to SERVE.  Remember greatness is the eyes of the kingdom is the one who is willing the serve the most.

Scripture Reference: Judges 12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, September 23, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Elon (Zebulun)

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Elon.  Elon the Zebulunite  judged Israel ten years.  Elon was buried at Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.  That's all the Bible says about Elon in the book of Judges.  His name means tree or oak tree.

Elon still has something to say to us because God chose him.  I know that may not sound like much but it really is everything!  The fact that he was chosen to deliver Israel implies that he was a faithful to Yahweh.  No greater compliment can a believer be granted than to be faithful to Yahweh.   Also oak tree in the bible refers to a strong and mighty tree.  Which  implies that Elon perhaps was a strong and mighty judge.

Can you be considered an oak?  A strong believer who is faithful to Yahweh?  Or do you crumble and lose faith as the pressures of life mount.  I encourage you to today to be strong in the faith like an oak and stay faithful to Yahweh even when your life situations suggest otherwise.

Scripture Reference: Judges 12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Ibzan Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Ibzan.  Ibzan was from Bethlehem and he judged Israel seven years.  He had thirty sons and he gave away thirty daughters in marriage. He brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.  That's all the bible says about him in the book of Judges.  Ibzan in Hebrew means illustrious. 

There is an important lesson to be learned from Ibzan and that is we are to seek to live illustrious lives.  Illustrious means well-respected or to be admired for past achievements or accomplishments. What I think is interesting is that Jewish tradition suggest that he is Boaz from the book of Ruth.  If that be the case then he definitely lived an illustrious life but whether he is Boaz from the book of Ruth or not does not diminish the fact that he was worthy to be mention in the book of Judges. We also know he ruled longer that Jephthah who may have the more popular story but doesn't mean he lived the more illustrious life.  Ibzan was respected and most likely well-off.  If is indeed Boaz we admire him for being Ruth's kinsman-redeemer. 

Do you live a life seeking to be well-respected by man or by God?  When you seek to earn the respect of God you receive the favor of God.  Notice I said respect you already has is approval thanks to being in Christ Jesus if you believe in the gospel.  But you can join Job, Noah, and Enoch just to name a few on list of people that were well-respected by God.

Scripture Reference:  Judges 12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Jephthah Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Jephthah. Jephthah was the son of Gilead by a harlot/prostitute.  He judged Israel 6 years.  As Jephthah was growing up his half-brothers chased him away, denying him any inheritance.  Jephthah led the children of Israel against the Ammonites.  Jephthah his perhaps best known for the vow he made to Yahweh.  When he vowed that if Yahweh would deliver the Ammonites into his hands whatever comes out of the door of his house to meet me when I return in triumph fromm the Ammonites I will sacrifice it as a burn offering. Unfortunately for Jephthah his daughter was the first to come out of the door of his house to greet him after Yahweh kept his end of the deal. 

Jephthah's story teaches us an important lesson.  We must honor the vows we make to the Lord no matter how painful our sacrifices may be.  I know many have debated since child sacrifice was a pagan ritual would Yahweh really be pleased with such a sacrifice.  I am not here to debate that.  However this story does serve as  warning about commitments we make to the Lord.  Its better not to make a commitment at all rather than make a commitment you are not willing to fulfill. 

Jephthah noble vow led to an unimaginable sacrifice but unlike many of us Jephthah made the sacrifice thus fulfilling his commitment to Yahweh.  No matter where you fall on Jephthah decision to go ahead and sacrifice his daughter as a burnt offering the overall implication is clear commitment to the Lord requires sacrifice!!  Are you really willing to give your life to Christ or does it just sound good?  Think about the implications of such a decision you may not have to sacrifice your child/children but you will have to sacrifice something! 

Jephthah gives us an example and encouragement that there is no sacrifice that worth more than keeping your vows to God!  Let us go and do likewise.

Scripture Reference:  Judges 11&12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, September 16, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Jair Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Jair. Jair the Gileadite  judged Israel twenty-two years. Jair had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and possessed thirty cities in the land of Gilead. Jair died and was buried in Kamon.  That's all the bible says about Jair the judge. 

From this there are some things that we can deduce from Jair's life he judged for twenty-two years which means he had a successful reign that indicates that he was a good ruler. The fact that he had thirty sons who rode thirty donkeys and possessed thirty cities indicates that his sons were well off which more than likely means he was a wealthy man.

So what can we learned about from Jair? Just because your life is seemly insignificant in the eyes of others doesn't mean you can be successful in God eyes.  Though he may not seem important compared to the likes of Samson, Gideon, and Jephthah he had a successful reign.  I learned that its seemingly the most minor people who makes biggest impacts in life.  It's the stories you don't hear about that makes the biggest difference in life.   Think about it?

Scripture Reference: Judges 10

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, September 12, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Tola Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges," of Israel we come to Tola. Tola was the son of Pauh, son of Dodo, a man of Issachar.  The only other things the Bible say about him in the book of  Judges is that he rose up to save Israel, he lived in Shamir in the mountain region of Ephraim, he judged Israel twenty-three years, and he died and was buried in Shamir.  That's all we really know about Tola. 

Tola teaches us an important lesson and I know you are thinking what can that be?  Though Tola story doesn't provide us much details the significant thing about Tola is that he is mentioned!!  For many us that is not enough we want to have memorable stories like Gideon, or Samson but the fact that Tola is mentioned means that he didn't go unnoticed by God.  People get caught up in the details but God sees the big picture!!  At the end of the day he saved Israel like the other judges with more popular stories.

So maybe your life seems like Tola not very grandiose, or doesn't seem like what you are doing is be noticed by anyone remember God notices what you do and it is significant to God!!!

Scripture Reference: Judges 10

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Gideon Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges," of Israel we come to Gideon.  Gideon is one of the more popular judges.  You may remember the story of the fleece where Gideon has this back and forth with Yahweh asking Yahweh for a sign not once but twice.  Or you may remember Yahweh telling Gideon to reduce the size of his army from 32,000 down to 300.  Or you made remember Gideon hiding in the wine press.

Gideon teaches us an important lesson and that is it does not matter what you think about you but only what God thinks about you.  Notice what happens to Gideon. Gideon was hiding and was afraid.  Yahweh calls Gideon man of valor or brave warrior.  Gideon thought of himself as weak and fearful while Yahweh declared that he was brave and courageous.  Gideon had to make a decision about whose report he was going to believe.  God had a plan to use Gideon in a mighty way but Gideon had to push past fear and self-doubt to walk in who God declared he was.  Gideon thought because he was from a poor small tribe that he wasn't able to be used by Yahweh but Yahweh had other plans for him!

Like Gideon let us embrace what God says about us and walk in the purpose that God called us to.

Scripture Reference: Judges 6-8

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Deborah Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Deborah.  Deborah was a prophetess and a judge. She was the wife of Lapidoth.  During Deborah's time the Canaanite king Jabin, ruled the land of Hazor.  I won't use this forum to argue for women in ministry though I am a proponent of women in ministry.  Deborah's general Barak is listed in the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11.  Deborah may best be remember for her song.  After her and Barak led 10,000 men from Israel against Sisera who was Jabin's army general she wrote a song of praise after the great victory.  Deborah name means honeybee and was regarded as a mother in Israel for her ability to settle disputes.

Deborah represents the first biblical account of a virtuous woman.  Virtuous was indicative of  power and strength she was the first woman in the Bible to be casted in that light.  Deborah demonstrated courage and the wisdom to trust God.  Deborah let's us know that God is more concern about your character than your gender.  Deborah's life models for us the proper response to the difficulties we will face in this life and that is with courage and the wisdom to trust in God.  A fool trusts in their own power and abilities but one who is wise will trust in the Lord with all their heart.

Let us learn from this great Woman of God to a be people of courage with the wisdom to trust God and watch God give you the victory!

Scripture Reference: Judges 4

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis 

Monday, September 9, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Shamgar Presiding

As we continue our journey through the Judges of Israel we come to Shamgar. Judges 3:31 records the little known story of Shamgar.  In fact there are only two verses that even mentions his name (Judges 3:31 and Judges 5:6). That's right 42 words tell his story. Shamgar was an example of an individual of who simply used what he had for the glory of God. God was looking for someone who would stand up and defend his honor. All of the Israelites were paralyzed with fear, but not Shamgar.

Shamgar decided despite what he did not have a sword or a shield he would use what he had for the glory of God! He did not allow fear of the enemy to keep him from being used by God. Shamgar could have made excuses but he decided to use what he had for the glory of God. So he used his ox-goad and killed six hundred Philistines to deliver Israel.

This teaches us that God will give you the victory in whatever it is he is calling you to do if you are willing to use what you have for the glory of God! Shamgar used his ox-goad! The question becomes what is your ox-goad? Will you use it for the glory of God?

Scripture Reference: Judges 3:31

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Ehud Presiding

As we continue our journey looking at the "Judges" of Israel we come to Ehud.  Ehud was a left-handed Benjamite who personally killed Eglon the fat king of Moab. Ehud also led Israel in the slaying of 10,000 Moabites.  You may be wandering why the Bible mentions he is left-handed.  The fact that Ehud was left-handed meant he was the most unlikely person to save Israel from the hand of the Moabites.  In Jewish tradition being left-handed was seen as a curse and someone who was left-handed was considered a second class citizen if you will.   Ehud didn't allow quote on quote his stereotype to determine his destiny.  Jeffrey Johnson's "Waiting on Superman," sermon is one of the best treatments of Ehud you will find.

Ehud teaches us an important lesson and that is that it isn't peoples' opinions who determine your destiny its God's opinion that determines your destiny.  If Ehud had listen to what people said about him he would probably have had low self-esteem and lived a defeated life but instead Ehud knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and knew that God honors faith.  Ehud step up in a time that no one was willing to step up and as result God used the most unlikely of the unlikely to deliver his people.

Perhaps you like Ehud don't have the ideal background and people have stereotyped you BUT the same God that was able to use Ehud is the same God that is able to use you!  However it's up to you like Ehud to sense what God is seeking to do in the life of His people.  When what you desire to do aligns with what God is seeking to accomplish through the body of Christ the result is GREAT things from the most unlikely of sources.  Remember he was a Benjaminite one of the poorest tribes of Israel.

Scripture Reference: Judges 3

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Othniel Presiding

Today I would like to begin a new journey looking at the " Judges" of Israel.  The book of of Judges represents a time of lawlessness where anarchy ruled and ever man did what was right in their own eyes.  I would like to begin today with Othniel. Othniel was the nephew of Caleb you remember Caleb the only man other than Joshua to see the promised land from the Exodus crew.   Othniel is best known for capturing Kiriath-Sepher/Debir and delivering Israel from the oppression of the Edomites.

Othniel teaches us the importance of seizing opportunities. Caleb presented the opportunity and Othniel seized it.  Often times in our lives God open doors but we are to reluctant to walk through those doors.  In the process we miss out on opportunities to be used by God for the edification of the body of Christ.  Othniel demonstrated courage and a willingness to respond to a challenge and as a result he experienced the favor of God.

God challenges each us to participate in God's mission and to be conformed daily into the image of HIS SON.  We are presented with opportunities each day but the question is how will we respond?  Othniel responded with courage and willingness!  Let us respond the same way so like Othniel we can experience the favor of God and the body of Christ can receive deliverance.

Scripture Reference: Judges 1

God bless
Bondservant Hollis